An Ode to the IKEA Cabinet

Joining the Grecian urn, the much-rhapsodized IKEA cabinet finally gets its poetic due as a heroic ode. Anyone who owns a set may verily be inclined to put quill to paper and dash off a few stanzas of their own.
kitchens 101 an ode ikea

Writer Dan Maginn’s Ode to the Ikea Cabinet says it best:

“O CABINETS, thou art affordable and shall fit like 
Careless laughter on our walls! Yet ye remain incomplete. 
’Tis time to cloak you properly. What color are thy doors 
And drawers? Be ye wood’n made, or be ye glossed in shiny Resin? Do steely knobs populate thine countenance? Companion! Like siblings at play with Mr. Potato Head, let 
Us now select a proper face for our Kitchen-Tuber. Duvbo? We smileth not at thee. Ärlig? No—thou art too white. Lo! Who’s this? Companion! What think thee of Linjär? Aye! 
Blue of face, sleek of handle, (shines she not brighter
’Pon our approach?) LINJÄR! Thou art ours!”

O IKEA1, thou art filled with brimming distractions! 
Already we have consum’d so much in thy nest. 
Our bags are nigh full of Secondary Things2 
We came not for. Let us locate our Primary Desire: 
’Tis Kitchen Cabinets we seek. Companion! 
Release the gnome-shaped candle from thine grip.
(’Tis odd-looking, that.) Drop also the penguin-shaped 
Dog toy and focus thine attention! See ye not 
What I see? Past the digital clocks, there. Behold 
My lingonberry-stained finger: It points to Cabinets.

O COMPANION! Let us enter the show-kitchen together 
And pretend that it is ours.3 (Though ’tis a fiction, ’twill 
Help us imagine our own sweet reality.) Look! Here I am Roasting an imaginary beef! See? Let’s take it out of the 
Oven, and let it cool down. Companion! Put thyself to 
Good use and prep these invisible organic carrots next 
To me. Have ye enough room to peel them? Where art 
Thy carrot pan? Is she in a cabinet there? Yes, ’tis there! 
This layout, subtly modified has many merits. ’Twill 
Function quite well with our real beefs and carrots.

O CABINETS, thou art affordable4 and shall fit like 
Careless laughter on our walls! Yet ye remain incomplete. 
’Tis time to cloak you properly. What color are thy doors 
And drawers? Be ye wood’n made, or be ye glossed in shiny Resin? Do steely knobs populate thine countenance? 5 Companion! Like siblings at play with Mr. Potato Head, let 
Us now select a proper face for our Kitchen-Tuber. Duvbo? We smileth not at thee. Ärlig? No—thou art too white. Lo! Who’s this? Companion! What think thee of Linjär? Aye! 
Blue of face, sleek of handle, (shines she not brighter 6 
’Pon our approach?) LINJÄR!7 Thou art ours!

(1) In an attempt to poetically explore the cultish phenomenon of IKEA kitchens, my girlfriend and I recently traveled from Kansas City to the IKEA in Minneapolis. Our Primary Goal was to research their Äkurum modular cabinet system—the Secret Weapon of design-savvy urban dwellers across the globe.



(2) Inside the store, as we made our way up to locate our Primary Desire, we grabbed a cart and began hoarding Secondary Things. It is easy to get distracted at IKEA: How can you pass up these wee stainless steel bowls, for instance? Six for two dollars? Or these fun corks? They don’t have corks like these, these exact corks, 
in Kansas City.



(3) What? You’re too good to play house? Listen, friend, you’re not buying a lamp here, so take it up a notch and get gritty. If you’re serious about an IKEA kitchen, you need to drop your catalog and go test your culinary/social theories in physical space/time. Chop some fake onions and sip some good fake Shiraz in a real kitchen as you fake talk to your fake friends. Ask yourself: Is this fun? Am I making a good risotto here, or am I just stirring rice?



(4) For comparison, IKEA 
bases the prices of their kitchen models on a ten-by-ten-foot, L-shaped design. For a well-built, modular kitchen without appliances, you’ll spend somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000. Although these prices are hilariously low, they don’t factor in the hours required to properly assemble and install your kitchen. Find a kitchen-savvy Ikean and ask them to ask you if you need help in all this. Think about what they’re asking. If you say “yes” to their question, then ask for their help. They’re very helpful.



(5) Once you have decided on the best functional arrangement for your kitchen, the next step is to finalize the package. Obviously, the same layout can look completely different based on your material and hardware choices. Talk to an Ikean about the pros and cons of different styles. Some models look kind of desperate in the store but would look great in the right house. Others look glossy and sweet in the showroom but would require constant cleaning. (Nothing de-cools an otherwise cool kitchen like greasy fingerprints on all the doors and drawers. Do you want to communicate, “We eat a lot of chicken nuggets,” when your boss comes over for dinner?)



(6) While you’re at it, ask about lighting. Yogi Berra once said: “A great kitchen without great lighting is a sucky kitchen.”



(7) Duvbo and Ärlig are two of the roughly 20 models offered at IKEA. Our favorite model is Linjär, designed by the Swede Mikael Warnhammar. It utilizes the same Äkurum modular cabinets as all IKEA kitchens, but it is

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